Most leaders in the private sector avoid using an autocratic or authoritarian approach to managing people. They realize that in order for an organization to reach its full potential, the people who make things happen will do it faster and better if they are not motivated by fear or intimidation. A mission-centric approach is much preferred over “My Way or the Highway.”
Of the thousands of business books published each year, not one of them is entitled Unleashing Your Inner Bully. Nor will you see one written on How to Improve Your Company’s Bottom Line by Bloating the Headcount and Pummeling People with Procedures.
Then how did the business leaders of America allow our government to morph into the autocratic monster it has become, at almost all levels of government? Why are we comfortable with unelected bureaucrats issuing edicts on how we are to live our lives and run our businesses? This happens when legislators empower regulators to develop and issue regulations that have the force of law, or when the Executive Branch circumvents the law with its orders and policies.
A classic case in point is Obamacare. A Democratic Party controlled Congress and White House empowered the Department of Health and Human Services to gain control over 1/5 of our economy (healthcare) and one of the most personal and private aspects of our lives (our health). Thus far, this has resulted in a much wasted time and money (Think Healthcare.gov.), hundreds of lawsuits, and near universal confusion. Instead of conducting laser surgery on our healthcare system, advocates of the administrative state decided to use a chainsaw to operate.
For those so inclined, spare us the platitudes about how quality healthcare is a basic human right, or the one about how the U.S. is the only developed nation without government healthcare. Until there is a truly long-term federal budget, the “healthcare for all” movement should not be given credence. Why? Because many of its advocates are those who are dead set against shrinking our national cradle to grave welfare programs which are expected to bankrupt our nation as the number of workers continue to decline and government beneficiaries rise.
If you doubt this, ask yourself one question: For general budgeting purposes, why does the federal government not use a longer planning horizon than ten years? Could it be that if it did, the folly of our cradle-to-grave extra-Constitutional social contract would be shown for what it truly is: the greatest Ponzi scheme ever?
With regard to comparing the U.S. to other nations: What part of American exceptionalism don’t advocates get? While it may be nice to compare houses, cars, swimming pools, and what not with your neighbors, since when do we all share the same tastes, budgets, and preferences? Each nation, while sharing some commonality with the rest of the world, is very unique in its political and social ecosystems. This is a beautiful thing. So long as human rights in accordance with natural law are not in violation, the rest is and should be highly discretionary.
As Columbia Law School professor Philip Hamburger explains in a recent Imprimis essay, “Administrative law is commonly defended as a new sort of power, a product of the 19th and the 20th centuries that developed to deal with the problems of modern society in all its complexity.” Nothing could be further from the truth, he says. Our Founders knew full well how “administrative law” can result from kings, judges, and others misusing their power, even unintentionally.
He further points out, “The Constitution’s very first substantive words are, ‘All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.’ The word ‘all’ was not placed there by accident. The Framers understood that delegation had been a problem in [England].”
Constitutional ignorance is one possible explanation of why business and organizational leaders have become so tolerant of administrative edicts. And it’s easy to get misled by those holding misguided, idealistic interpretations of the Supreme Law of the Land. Every American would do well to take a refresher course on the intent and meaning of the Constitution. One excellent way to do it is through a free outreach program by Hillsdale College. For more information about the Constitution 101 course, click here. It contains a section entitled, The Administrative State Today, that addresses this topic in greater detail.
Another explanation is the attempt by some to create utopia; an existence in which life involves no risk, and no one is at a disadvantage. This view is high on ideology but bereft of good sense. Each human being is a unique creature with his or her own strengths, weaknesses, and free will. Moreover, we are all subject to human nature, the good, the bad, and the ugly of it. To help the disadvantaged, and establish laws to protect society against those who would do others harm is a good and noble undertaking. But to endeavor to make the world into paradise is a fool’s errand, and speaks volumes about the poor spiritual health of the idealogues. It is also why we have seen a constant erosion of our civil liberties over the last century.
Crony Capitalism offers yet another explanation for how we’ve gotten into this mess called an administrative state. The bigger a business gets, the more likely it is that it is either a government contractor or is beholding to the government in one way or another. A bigger business is able to absorb the cost of legislative and regulatory compliance much easier than a smaller competitor. This, in turn, provides a perverse incentive for the bigger businesses to tolerate the growing administrative state.
Regardless, as the good professor points out in his essay, it is no longer wise to use a “vague notion of ‘rule of law” which has fostered the growth in the administrative state and its power. Instead, through our vote and other powers of influence “we should demand rule through law and rule under law.” (Emphasis added) To ignore this dangerous trend that has continued nearly unabated for more than a century is to risk our representative form of government becoming irrelevant for anything other than patriotic pretenses.
In the coming Mid-term Elections on November 4, you have an excellent opportunity to help reverse course for our Constitutional Republic. I urge you to do so by first voting only for those who demonstrate that they know the proper role of government. Second, make this a topic of conversation within your organizations. You can address this important political topic in a non-partisan way by sharing the aforementioned essay along with a personal note of support for its conclusions.
— GCF —
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